Genital Harm More Common Than Dental Injuries, Study Shows

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Think twice before making fun of your friend for going to the hospital after getting hit in the crotch with a soccer ball. According to a study published in the Journal of Urology, these accidents are more common than you'd imagine.

Researchers looked at genital injuries to men and women caused by consumer products - from bicycles to clothing - or household mishaps that sent both men and women to the hospital from 2002 to 2010.

The study showed that every year, nearly 16,000 adults in the United States have genital injuries that can be caused by shaving, sports equipment, falling off furniture, or even sex toys.

"While all of the studies into genitourinary trauma [in the past] involved things like car accidents or pedestrians getting hit by cars," said senior author Benjamin Breyer, an assistant professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco, "the more minor things haven't been looked at."

Breyer said the data used in the study came from a database of 100 emergency rooms around the country. They recorded genital injuries related to consumer products.

Patients' personal information was not linked to their injury details, Breyer said.

Injuries to the penis, scrotum, testicles, urethra, kidneys, bladder, and external female genitalia, among other body parts, were taken into account.

Over the 9-year period, 142,444 adults were brought to hospitals with genital injuries caused by consumer products. Men ages 18-28 sustained these injuries most frequently.

The majority of injuries took place during the summer, with spikes in emergency room admissions taking place from June to August.

Adults were most likely to hurt themselves with sporting equipment, particularly bicycles, and also clothing. A large number of men reported injuries caused by the zippers of their pants.

Of the findings, Breyer said he was most surprised by how many injuries happen in the bathroom - slipping in the shower, or burning yourself with hot water, or toilet seat-related injuries.

Younger patients, and women in particular, experienced "a lot of grooming injuries - lacerations, things like that," said Breyer. "That was pretty surprising."

Adults over 65 were less likely to sustain genital injuries. When they did occur, they were most likely to be related to falling, and required inpatient admission for injury-related trauma.

Breyer said the frequency of genital injuries was equivalent to the number of electrical and chemical burns that happen annually. Surprisingly, genital injuries are two times more likely to occur than dental injuries, he said.

Breyer said despite the sheer number of injuries recorded, many adults who hurt themselves may not go to the emergency room, citing time and money as reasons why people don't get checked out after getting hurt.

"The vast majority of these injuries described were ones where the person came to the emergency room and was able to be discharged," Breyer said. "This probably underestimates how many of these are actually happening."